RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Mark R. Warner (search) declared a state of emergency in Virginia on Monday to brace the state for Hurricane Isabel (search), which was on course to smash into the East Coast as early as Thursday.
The declaration places the National Guard, the State Police and the Department of Transportation on full alert for what Warner said could be significant flooding across an already waterlogged state as well as wind and tornado damage.
Isabel, 350 miles wide and packing winds of about 150 mph, on Monday was churning its way toward the U.S. mainland, where prognosticators predict landfall would be most likely from the Carolinas northward.
Warner called on Virginians statewide, not just in coastal or tidewater regions, to be prepared to move to higher ground, tie down garbage cans and lawn furniture that could become missiles in high winds and prepare for three to seven days without electricity.
He met privately Monday afternoon with state law-enforcement, military, emergency preparedness and transportation officials.
The last hurricane to affect Virginia was in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd (search) caused widespread flooding damage, particularly in Franklin and Southampton County. Franklin's downtown business district was almost completely inundated and is still struggling to rebound.